April 01, 2008,
D.O. asks from Arlington, TX on March 31, 2008
T-ball for 4 Year Olds - I NEED ADVICE!!!
I need your advice! We have put our twin 4 year old boys in T-ball. I thought they would love it. Not so much. They did o.k. at the first practice. At the second, one cried all the way through. Did o.k. at the third practice but wouldn't participate all the way. During the 1st game they participated for about 1/2 the game then shut down. Actually one did a little better than the other. The second game was this past Saturday and it was a complete disaster. They both cried the entire time. We made the mistake of staying for most of the game. We shouldn't have done that as it was distracting to other people. I thought they were throwing a temporary fit and would stop any minute. I would say about 98% of the time they are very, very happy, polite, and smart (all the time!) little boys. This behavior was really pretty out of character for them. Apparently the parents complained to the coach a bit. Though it upsets me I really can understand them being upset about it. I wouldn't want to listen to other kids cry either!
Do any of you have any experience putting your 4 year old (or reluctant kids at any age) in T-ball or other sports? How did you handle it when they cried? They usually love being around other kids. How did you encourage the 'reluctant' kid to participate without being disruptive? Did you 'give in' and 'give up'? I really, really don't want to do that. Did any of you just decide that your 4 year old (though intelligent) just wasn't ready for that kind of thing? Please help!
So What Happened?™
The boys had a game tonight and did great! One of the twins played the entire game & didn't cry at all. The other had a bit of a meltdown when he was in the outfield because he couldn't come see mommy right away. I took him to the side, held him until he calmed down, & we watched the game until he was ready to jump back into it. Hopefully this trend will continue!
B.M. answers from Dallas on March 31, 2008
I agree with the others - it may just be they aren't ready for this kind of structure/team sport. If they were older, I'd be inclined to say tell them we finish what we start and that's the end of it until the season is over - but at 4, I don't think that's going to have the effect that you want.
You said one seemed to enjoy it more than the other - if you pull the less enthusiastic one out, would the other do better, do you think? That might be worth doing, and have the less enthusiastic maybe do something else. It wouldn't be a bad idea to give them their own individual 'sport' focus either.
L.G. answers from Dallas on March 31, 2008
I put my son in T-Ball when he was almost 4. I was the parent of the kid who played in the dirt the whole game! He liked practiced okay but the games were too slow for him. So he would sit down and dig and make pictures. Most of the parents understood and a few dads looked out for him. (He was almost hit a few times.) I decided T-Ball wasn't his thing and never put him back in. On the other hand he LOVES soccer so I put him in that. He has done much better with focusing on the game.
B.P. answers from Abilene on March 31, 2008
Having been a T-ball coach in the past, I would recommend you go ahead and take them out. It just doesn't seem like they are ready for it yet. You don't want to them to get older and remember how horrible this experience was.
Also, T-ball is so slow moving -- almost like paint drying -- maybe you could find an activity like soccer or swimming that is a lot more active! I know my son does better on team sports where it's not so long between times when he gets to participate!
R.E. answers from Dallas on March 31, 2008
Maybe t-ball is a big too structured for them. We started my son at soccer. It was a lot easier for young kids to learn and the team wasn't as affected if one stood around picking grass you know. We didn't start t-ball until he turned 6. I can understand your reluctance to give up, but I can understand you wanting to also. That's a bit of a tough one. My son has always done best at his games if he's had a good night's sleep the night before and he eats a good breakfast or lunch right before hand. But still, they are still so young. Maybe try a few more games and practices, but if it doesn't get better, you may want to bow out and try again next year. Maybe a less structured sport like soccer. I'm sorry the other parents made you feel bad. I hate it when people do that. It can be annoying to hear kids cry whether they are your own or someone else's, but I just can't imagine complaining to a coach about it! Everyone's kids has those moments! When I hear other kids throwing fits or crying, I just thank my lucky stars it isn't mine! :)
E.T. answers from Dallas on March 31, 2008
I agree that they may not be ready for something so structured... when my son started soccertots, the coach told me not to worry, as long as he was there and doing SOMETHING, they didn't worry that he wasn't doing EXACTLY what the other kids were doing. And that's approach we've kept with... we haven't signed him up for anything too structured because we know he's not ready for that. He loves sports and playing, but he likes it in more a free play way, not something so organized...
M.B. answers from Dallas on March 31, 2008
It sounds like your sons are not ready for group sports, which is perfectly okay. My older son did just a few sports before he was 7. Based on those experiences, we didn't put our younger son into any group sports until he was 7. I absolutely would not force them to do it because you may make them hate sports later and it's clear they're not enjoying themselves and that's ABSOLUTELY ALL that it's about at this age.
D.G. answers from Dallas on April 01, 2008
Any early childhood education expert will tell you organized sports are for parents not preschoolers! Children do not think like adults so competion, rules and games are not developmentally appropriate for children before age 6 to 8. They will enjoy organized sports much more if you wait until they are ready. Listen to an expert talk on the subject at this link: